The 30-year-old Tate dropped a lopsided unanimous decision to Raquel Pennington on the pay-per-view opener of Saturday night's blockbuster entry into New York, then decided to call it quits in her post-fight interview. Tate (18-7) is still widely regarded as one of the best female bantamweights in the world and was the reigning UFC champion as recently as four months ago, however UFC president Dana White understands the logic behind Tate's decision.
"I didn't see the Miesha Tate thing coming, but you know, it makes sense," White said at the UFC 205 post-fight press conference.
"Miesha's been so tough and durable, and not a tough, durable woman, but a tough, durable athlete. She's been in this for so long, and I could just tell when I talked to her tonight."
Tate came into UFC 205 as the No. 1 ranked female bantamweight in the UFC, according the promotion's media-generated rankings, but ultimately suffered a difficult and demoralizing loss to the No. 8 ranked Pennington. The setback put "Cupcake" on only the second two-fight losing streak of her career, and afterward a tearful Tate said that after sustaining years worth of punishment, it simply wasn't her time to compete anymore.
Tate was unable to explain her decision further as she was transported to the hospital following her fight and missed the event's post-fight press conference, but even that was a struggle for the emotional former champion, White said.
"Her and I had a little bit of a thing tonight," explained White. "She was refusing to go to the hospital. And I'm like, ‘you're going to the hospital.' She's like, ‘f*ck you, I don't work for you anymore.'
"So, yeah. I was like, that's a good point, but you need to go to the hospital. ... Then I had to start begging, ‘if you go to the hospital tonight, I'll get you another job doing something else, and I could be your boss again.' So, she went, yeah. She has to go."
What that job could entail is anyone's best guess. The UFC has historically awarded positions within the company to many of its biggest names in their post-fighting life, and Tate, as one of the most popular female fighters in the sport's young history, certainly fits that bill.
But either way, if Tate's announcement truly does end up marking the end of her career, the Washington native will go down as a pioneer who accomplished virtually every major goal available to her. She and her foremost rival, Ronda Rousey, are the only two women in MMA history to capture both a Strikeforce and UFC title, and their early rivalry helped to spearhead the introduction of the women's weight classes into the UFC, aided in part by their roles as the first female coaches on the first female season of The Ultimate Fighter.
Tate now exits the sport holding a slew of notable victories over the likes of Marloes Coenen, Julie Kedzie, Sara McMann, and Liz Carmouche. But her crowning moment undoubtedly came earlier this year at UFC 196, when Tate stormed back from the brink of defeat to submit Holly Holm in the fifth round and win the UFC bantamweight title.
"She's upset and she's very emotional," White said. "But I care about Miesha a lot, and I think she's going to do just fine in her life after fighting."